Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz Illustrated by AG Ford 

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Society of Illustrators Selection "The Original Art 2014 

EUREKA Honor Award 2014!

Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice.

Bolstered by the love and wisdom of his large, warm family, young Malcolm Little was a natural born leader. But when confronted with intolerance and a series of tragedies, Malcolm’s optimism and faith were threatened. He had to learn how to be strong and how to hold on to his individuality. He had to learn self-reliance.

Together with acclaimed illustrator AG Ford, Ilyasah Shabazz gives us a unique glimpse into the childhood of her father, Malcolm X, with a lyrical story that carries a message that resonates still today&mdashthat we must all strive to live to our highest potential.


Publishers Weekly

Shabazz (Growing Up X) pays affectionate tribute to her father, Malcolm X, and his parents in this account of the activist’s childhood, which relies on family lore to reimagine Malcolm’s conversations and thoughts. The dense narrative mixes down-to-earth observations (Malcolm “was full of questions, a natural leader, and a fun-loving prankster”) with sometimes protracted metaphors; among the lessons Malcolm learned from his mother’s garden was that it “was an entire world of its own, where even the most sluggish of ladybugs and the fastest scurrying ants were all equally treated like esteemed and welcomed guests at a family Sunday brunch.” What Shabazz relays more precisely is Malcolm’s resolve to succeed and remain true to his parents’ values after he loses his father “to the brute force of racism and the narrow-mindedness of the Ku Klux Klan,” and his mother is deemed “no longer fit to care for her children.” Ford’s (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) oil paintings render joyous and desolate moments with equal skill. Ages 5–10. Author’s agent: Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)

February 2014 Usa Today

"Before he became the black nationalist leader known as Malcolm X , Malcolm Little was a boy who loved fishing and butterflies. His daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, aided by AG Ford's vivid paintings, outlines a childhood marked by love and tragedy."

January 2014 School Library Journal

"The author of this handsome, inspirational offering is Malcolm X’s daughter–an educator, activist, and motivational speaker. . . . Ford’s oil paintings are accomplished and historically accurate."

Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson

This beautifully illustrated picture book introduces young readers to the childhood of Malcolm X. His parents met when both were actively working for equality among the races. After their marriage, they moved to Nebraska where Malcolm was born, the middle child of seven. Although the children attended public school, their mother continued to teach them at home. From her, Malcolm developed his love for languages and the power of words. From her, he also learned how butterflies emerge from cocoons, a phenomenon that inspired him throughout his life. After the Littles' home was destroyed by the Ku Klux Klan, the family moved to Lansing, Michigan where they continued to experience prejudice against their race. Mr. Little was later killed as a result of his fight for equality. Although the siblings were taken away from their mother and raised in different homes, Malcolm continued to embrace the lessons learned from his parents. While attending a mostly white school, Malcolm was discouraged by his white teacher when he expressed his ambition to become a lawyer. Yet, Malcolm surprised everyone when he was later elected as president of his seventh grade class. This story, lovingly written by his daughter, illustrates how Malcolm's upbringing instilled in him a love of family and a passion for equality&mdashtraits that would carry him throughout his life. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson

Kirkus Reviews

The childhood of the controversial African-American activist was shaped by parental love and white racism. Writing with the fervor and intensity of a motivational speaker, Shabazz recounts her father's early years, which were filled with the loving support and teachings of his parents as well as the hate and destruction of the Ku Klux Klan. His mother nurtured a love of learning and nature, and his father--a follower of Marcus Garvey--taught him self-pride before being murdered by the KKK. Shabazz concentrates her lengthy text on her father's youth; she writes about his racist English teacher but does not mention his imprisonment, work for Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam or conversion to Islam anywhere in the text or in her three-page author's note. With the passion of a preacher, she celebrates love, respect, tolerance and education without restraint, producing an overwritten text laced with an excess of flowery images. In a description of the garden that Malcolm's mother shared with her children, she writes that it "was a testament to true and unconditional brotherhood from the earth on up to the sky, a daily lesson in acceptance and equality." Ford's oil paintings, framed on the page, are lush and filled with detail. A daughter's proud but overwrought tribute to her father and his parents. (Picture book/ biography. 7-10) 

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